Archive for the ‘energy’ Category

Grow your own hemp industry

January 9, 2009

hemp
China’s insatiable demand for iron ore has been the basis for Western Australia’s booming export industry, but another natural resource has been making its way to the East.
According to Nimbin-based hemp researcher and grower Klara Marosszeky, a Western Australian hemp grower is exporting all of his crop to China, including a contract to supply the Chinese military. The military are using the material to create “hemp food packs” that include hemp milk, hemp chocolate, hemp cake, hemp coffee and hemp protein powder amongst other food products.
“You can use the meal like flour. It was used by most cultures of the world in the last century,” she said.
Ms Marosszeky is hoping that a hemp-based food industry will be a reality in Australia within a few years, but at the moment the authority that regulates the food industry, FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand), does not allow any hemp food products to be sold here.
“The industry is ready to grow and we think we will be growing it for food, either for local production or for export to meet the growing world food crisis,” she said.
This week the NSW Parliament passed legislation allowing for the licensing of industrial hemp to be grown in this state for the first time.
“Industrial hemp has the potential to provide farmers with a much-needed additional fast growing summer crop option that can be used in rotation with winter grain crops,” NSW Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald said. “It’s a potentially lucrative industry due to the environmentally friendly nature of (it) and there is strong interest for hemp products in the market.”
Klara Marosszeky held a workshop last weekend for 15 local growers to assist them to fill out the licence application forms and she is hoping they will be planting within weeks.
“Farmers are growing for a couple of different reasons; some are growing to develop a seed base for the Northern Rivers region because that’s the only way we can keep the price of seed reasonable. A few will be growing for the natural fibre industry, and the Regional Development Corporation is also working with Southern Cross University and the Northern Rivers Hemp Association to do seed research with the long term view of developing a good eating variety.”
However, Klara’s main interest and speciality is hemp masonry – using hemp fibre with a mixture of lime-based materials to create a building material.
“This year we’re hoping to get investment to get a bagging and batching facility in the region to produce a dry mix in one tonne bulk bags for the affordable housing market,” she said. “I’ve been talking with the Northern Rivers Regional Development Board who have supported my work through the innovation award process.”
Some previous trials of growing hemp in cane growing areas on the North Coast have been less than successful, so one of the other things Klara is hoping to do is to plant a “a wet footed cultivar”.
“We’ve got all sorts of cultivars from all over world… cultivars being worked on by Dr Keith Bolton and myself. For example we’ve got seeds in from Canada which give you height, European ones that are good for food, and Hungarian ones that give a combination of food and fibre suitable for textiles.”
http://www.echonews.com/index.php?page=News%20Article&article=24434&issue=375

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Bush’s King Midas in reverse – everthing he touches turns to shit

March 16, 2008

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by Ed Naha | March 15, 2008 -dit_title=Mission accomplished: FUBAR 'R' us digg_skin=’compact’; 

Which one of these headlines scares you the most? “Recession fears rise on more job cuts.” “Fed takes new steps to boost cash for banks.” “World markets slide as US economy groans.” “Housing market spirals, no end in sight.” “Consumer confidence at lowest since 2002.” “Studies: Iraq costs US $12B per month.” “Gas prices rise to new national record.” “Consumers increased their borrowing by $6.9 billion in January.” “Bush says no recession in sight.”

Yeah, I know. It’s not even close. Once again, our President emerges victorious.

Over the years, Bush has acquired many critics. Some think him as being arrogant, stubborn, ill informed, short-sighted, paranoid, clueless and out of touch. Others consider him an ideologue, an overgrown frat boy with a warped sense of entitlement, a dry drunk, a sociopath, a fascist, a belligerent blow-hard, a monarch wannabe with the inherent intelligence of a kadota fig and a total failure. To be fair to Bush, he is all that and more – an unprecedented Black Hole in the history of American governance.

Our president, who believes in the piss on ’em, I mean, er, trickle down theory of economics and who has made a practice out of robbing the poor to give to the rich, is now faced with his latest monstrous creation: an American economy that has gone bust. The only reason there aren’t Hoovervilles popping up around the country is that nobody can afford the cardboard.

The sheer madness of King George has been highlighted in the past week by dire financial headline after headline and Bush’s reaction, or lack of it, to the consequences of his “let them eat caca” economic policies.

Last week, the Labor Department announced that 63,000 non-farm jobs were lost in February, following January’s 22,000 goners. February’s figures were the worst in five years. In addition, 450,000 folks bade adios to the labor force. They just stopped looking for jobs that weren’t there. (As a result, our unemployment rate eased to 4.8% from 4.9%, a fact Bush actually bragged about.)

The real job loss for February is a tad higher than the official number. Construction lost 39,000 posts. Manufacturing took a 52,000 hit. Retailers cut 34,100 jobs. Financial companies slashed 12,000 positions. Even temp agencies reported 27,600 jobs cut. The total job loss number was offset by the creation of new jobs in such sectors as government, service, prostitution and television punditry. (Okay, I made some of that last stuff up.)

Consumer confidence sank to a new low of 33.1%.

“We’ve gotten to a point where there’s very little for the consumer to cheer about. Everywhere you look – homes, grocery stores, gasoline stations – there are things that are all weighing on consumer attitudes,” said Richard Yamarone, economist at Argus Research. “You have soaring energy and food prices, rising home foreclosures and uncertainties about the jobs climate. When you mix it altogether it is a recipe for miserable consumer sentiment.”

D’ya think?

Adding to the hilarity, the dollar slid to record international lows this past week. It’s right down there with colored beads, trinkets and beaver pelts.

Oil soared to a new high, just about $110 a barrel. Gas prices hit an all-time record, with regular unleaded going for $3.2272 a gallon, a figure that doesn’t accurately reflect what’s happening at the pump. In California, for instance, a gallon of unleaded averages $3.50, with one station in the northern part of the state pumping it up to $5.19! In other words, gas is now almost as costly as a D.C. hooker.

The amount of consumer credit owed to banks and credit cards rose to $6.9 billion this year because people are now using their credit cards to survive.

Probably not coincidentally, a survey measuring an individual’s outlook about their personal financial standing as well as that of the country’s came up with a resounding NEGATIVE 41.6%

Think of this way: all those folks who wanted to have a beer with Bush can no longer afford the beer. (Nor can they afford his policies.)

Bush’s King Midas in reverse financial touch is spreading across the land. Retail sales in January fell at the fastest pace in the last five years.

Retailers including AnnTaylor Stores Corp., Talbots Inc. and Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. have closed hundreds of stores so far this year. Gadget seller Sharper Image filed for bankruptcy protection last month and plans to shutter nearly half of its 184 stores.

That, along with the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of catalog retailer Lillian Vernon Corp., could mark the beginning of a wave of retail bankruptcies that’s expected to go well beyond the home furnishings stores hurt by the housing disaster.

Unless the economy dramatically improves, retail bankruptcies this year could reach the highest level since the 1991 recession. More closings could leave gaping holes in the nation’s retail centers, which have already seen average vacancy rates creep up to between 7 percent and 8 percent from 5 percent over the last six months.

David Solomon, president and CEO of ReStore, NAI Global’s retail division, expects the vacancy rate could hit 10 percent by the end of the year. Suzanne Mulvee, senior economist at Property & Portfolio Research, figures that vacancies could rise as high as 12.5 percent this year. Her figure includes retail spaces where tenants have defaulted on their rents.

Part of the problem, according to Mulvee, is that more retail space is coming to the market just as consumer demand is falling. Another 130 million square feet of retail space will become available this year, she predicts, on top of last year’s 143 million.

Another reason malls are being hit hard is that, despite dwindling business, landlords are raising rents, driving a lot of small stores out. Clearly, landlords subscribe to Bush’s sunny economic views. Either that or Helen Keller’s.

U.S. home foreclosure filings jumped 60 percent and bank seizures more than doubled in February as rates on adjustable mortgages rose and property owners were unable to sell or refinance amid falling prices.

More than 223,000 properties were in some stage of default, or 1 in every 557 U.S. households.

About $460 billion of adjustable-rate mortgages are scheduled to reset this year and another $420 billion will rise in 2011, according to New York-based analysts at Citigroup Inc. Homeowners faced higher payments as fourth-quarter home prices fell 8.9 percent, the biggest drop in 20 years as measured by the S&P/Case- Shiller home price index.

Foreclosure filings are likely to be “explosive” in May and June as more payments jump Rick Sharga, executive vice president of RealtyTrac, said in an interview. There may be between 750,000 and 1 million bank repossessions in 2008. Bank seizures rose 110 percent in February from a year ago, he said.

Even interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgage are rising. Why? The mortgage market is short by roughly $1 trillion in capital.

Despite BushCo.’s efforts to make it nearly impossible for regular folks to declare bankruptcy, an average of 4,000 bankruptcy filings were made PER DAY in February.

Meanwhile, hidden bank fees are on the rise, with consumers paying over $36 billion in 2006, the last year on record.

Americans are getting slapped around worse than Curly of The Three Stooges. The official government response? “I’m not saying there’s a recession,” insists Edward Lazear, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. (Bush has Council of Economic Advisers??? One that even has a president??? Who knew?) Ever the realist, Lazear stated: “We have definitely downgraded our forecast for this quarter.”

That sort of thinking is akin to the National Weather Service forecasting “drizzle” before Katrina hit New Orleans.

The Ponzi Schemes run by unregulated lenders while Bush was asleep at the wheel has resulted in a housing credit mess that is almost unparalleled in American history.

For the first time since the Federal Reserve started tracking the data in 1945, the amount of debt tied up in American homes now exceeds the equity homeowners have built.

The Fed reported last week that homeowner equity actually slipped below 50 percent in the second quarter of last year, and fell to just below 48 percent in the fourth quarter.

Economy.com estimates 8.8 million homeowners, or about 10 percent of homes, will have zero or negative equity by the end of this month. Even more disturbing, about 13.8 million households will be “upside down” if prices fall 20 percent from their peak. Again, U.S. home prices plunged 8.9 percent in the final quarter of 2007, so that 20 percent figure isn’t all that far-fetched.

So far, the government has stepped in with a number of half-assed measures to contain the housing fallout. Last month, Congress passed a $168 billion economic stimulus package with provisions aimed at helping homeowners refinance into more affordable loans. The Federal Reserve has also slashed interest rates in hopes of spurring growth.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested lenders reduce loan amounts to provide relief to beleaguered homeowners. (The lenders are sure to cave. That “pretty please with sugar on top” negotiating style has worked so well nationally during the last seven years.) Most economists believe that it’s all too little too late.

Peter Morici of the University of Maryland School of Business stated, on CNN: “This is a wholesale meltdown… Across the board the economy is shrinking. Over 600,000 Americans left the labor force. The labor department reports that unemployment is falling. That is simply because so many people have quit the labor market. They only count those that are looking for a job, not all those that are discouraged and decided to stay at home.

“We need 115,000 jobs (created a month) to break even. We lost over 100,000 jobs (in February). So, by all rights, the unemployment rate should have gone up to over 5 percent. The labor department only computes it on the basis of people that are actually participating, those that are employed and those that are looking. Those that quit looking don’t count in their mind. If we counted all the people that have quit, if we adjusted it for the labor force participation rate we had seven or eight years ago, the unemployment rate would be near 7 percent.”

As for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed chief Ben Bernanke insisting that the sun will come out tomorrow, betcha bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun, Morici was less than impressed.

“If you look at the (Congressional) testimony last week, Ben Bernanke’s testimony and Paulson’s speech in Chicago, according to Paulson, our manufacturing sector is just plain healthy, and there is nothing to worry about, even though it lost 50,000 jobs last month and over 3.5 million jobs during the course of the Bush administration. As for Bernanke, he keeps cutting interest rates thinking that is going to push the economy forward. But as he cuts interests rates credit card terms are becoming more difficult. Housing loans have all but dried up. The reason is that we have a wholesale breakdown in the credit markets.

“Normally, banks loan money to homeowners and they turn around and turn them into bonds and sell them to insurance companies. Because of the sub prime meltdown and all of the bad bonds they wrote, all of the bogus securities that are melting away in value, the fixed income buyers, the insurance companies, large private buyers, foreign governments and investors are no longer willing to accept paper that Citibank and the other large banks create. Bernanke has showed no recognition of this problem. He is not addressing it, instead he tells the banks to mark down the debt a bit. The credit markets are not functioning. Cutting the Fed rates will not help.”

But surely, our fearless leader has planned for such an economic emergency! Surely, he can face down a recession. Uh, not really. In fact, he doesn’t even think we’re in a recession. We’re experiencing a “slowdown.” And, once again, he’s on the case. (Uh-oh.) He’s administered, what he calls, “a booster shot.”

Bush addressed the economy in-between FISA snit-fits and anti-Cuba rants. “Losing a job is painful,” he imagined, “and I know Americans are concerned about our economy. So am I. It’s clear our economy has slowed, but the good news is, we anticipated this and took decisive action to bolster the economy, by passing a growth package that will put money into the hands of American workers and businesses.”

Unfortunately, Bush was not done in his speechifying: “I signed this growth package into law just three weeks ago, and its provisions are just starting to kick in. First, a growth package includes incentives for businesses to make investments in new equipment this year. These incentives are now in place, and they are starting to have an impact. My advisors tell me that investment in new equipment remains solid thus far in the first quarter.”

So, lets review. Businesses are going belly up. What’s the first thing on their minds? “Hey, we’re going under! Let’s expand and upgrade.” Note to whoever is advising Bush. Hide the bong when Cheney shows up.

Bush summed up his sunny views with a succinct: “So my message to the American people is this: I know this is a difficult time for our economy, but we recognized the problem early (Note: what tipped you off? The quiche lines in Kennebunkport?), and provided the economy with a booster shot. We will begin to see the impact over the coming months. And in the long run, we can have confidence that so long as we pursue pro-growth, low-tax policies that put faith in the American people, our economy will prosper.”

In other words, we’re fucked until a new president takes over.

The checks that Bush is sending out to some Americans are in the $600 to $1200 range. (“Look, ma! Now we kin buy ourselves that terlet paper we’ve been a’ hankerin’ for.”) Bush sincerely believes that these checks will perk up the economy. Why? Because, with all that dough burning a hole in their pockets, Americans will spend like drunken sailors.

Theorized Bush: “The purpose is to encourage our consumers. The purpose is to give them money — their own to begin with, by the way — but give them money to help deal with the adverse effects of the decline in housing value. Consumerism is a significant part of our GDP growth, and we want to sustain the American consumer, encourage the American consumer and, at the same time, we want to encourage investment. So we’ll see how the plan works.”

In other words: lost your home, your job, and your health insurance? Buy shit! You know like you did after 9/11! Buy lotsa shit! “When the money reaches the American people, we expect they will use it to boost consumer spending,” Bush fantasized.

Clearly Bush has his pulse on the upraised finger of the nation.

Why else would he be moved towards such profundities as: “I’m concerned about the economy because I’m concerned about working Americans, concerned about people who want to put money on the table and save for their kids’ education.”

If you’re like me, you put that money right next to the mashed potatoes on your table. Yum. Pass the unpaid mortgage, please. I’m saving bankruptcy for dessert!

One day after “The Wall Street Journal” ran the results of a survey wherein 71% of economists polled thought we were in a recession now, Bush gave a speech devoted to our current crises. “I’m coming to you as an optimistic fellow,” he golly-geed. “I’ve seen what happens when America deals with difficulty. I believe that we’re a resilient economy, and I believe that the ingenuity and resolve of the American people is what helps us deal with these issues.”

If you’re religious by nature, that nails it. All gods have officially abandoned us.

Probably the most telling reflection of America’s current Bizarro state of affairs can be found in the story headlined: “Dr. Death to run for US Congress.”

It seems that assisted-suicide advocate Jack (“Dr. Death”) Kevorkian has decided to throw his cowl into the ring and run as an independent in Oakland, California’s 9th Congressional district. Kevorkian spent more than eight years in jail for the murder of a man whose videotaped assisted suicide was aired on national television. He claims to have helped 130 folks kick the bucket.

In a sense, Bush has fashioned a political career doing what Kevorkian does but on a much larger scale. Unlike Bush, Kevorkian was always upfront with his patients as he ended their suffering.

With Bush, all you get is: don’t worry, be happy.

And don’t worry about that dirty needle.

It’s good for you.

The Gulf of Tonkin and the Strait of Hormuz

January 9, 2008

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By ROBERT FANTINA

As the U.S. government continues to demonstrate its inability to learn from history, an alarming report from the Strait of Hormuz was broadcast to the world on January 7. The Associated Press reported the following: “In what U.S. officials called a serious provocation, Iranian boats harassed and provoked three U.S. Navy ships in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, threatening to explode the American vessels.” These Iranian ships are believed to part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s navy, the organization that the U.S. Congress officially decreed a ‘terrorist’ organization.

Those either old enough to remember, or cognizant enough to understand history, will immediately be reminded of the infamous ‘Gulf of Tonkin’ incident, reported on August 2, 1964. On that day, the U.S. destroyer Maddox, on an espionage mission in the Gulf of Tonkin off the Vietnam coast, reported being fired on by North Vietnamese torpedo patrol boats. In response the Maddox fired back, sinking one boat. Tensions in the area were already growing, and now the world watched and waited.

On August 4 of that same year, the Maddox and the C. Turner Joy, another destroyer, were again patrolling the Gulf of Tonkin. Instruments on the Maddox indicated that it was either attacked or was under attack, and both the Maddox and the C. Turner Joy began firing back, with assistance from U.S. air power.

It was less than 24 hours later when the captain concluded that there might not have been an attack; why the instruments indicated otherwise was not clearly explained. The pilot of a Crusader jet, James B. Stockdale, undertook a reconnaissance flight over the gulf that evening. He was asked if he saw any North Vietnamese attack vessels. Mr. Stockdale did not equivocate in his response. Said he: “Not a one. No boats, no wakes, no ricochets off boats, no boat impacts, no torpedo wakes–nothing but black sea and American firepower.”

Yet this non-event, either misinterpreted or fabricated altogether, was seen by an hysterical U.S. Congress, ever willing to protect America from its enemies, real or imagined, as aggression against the U.S. It also provided members of that august body with some additional ‘I’m-strong- on-Communism’ credentials, which were ever in demand from the end of World War II until the dawn of the world’s newest bugaboo, ‘terrorism.’ Congress quickly passed the so-called ‘Gulf of Tonkin Resolution,’ which empowered President Lyndon Johnson to take all measures he deemed necessary to repel aggression. While this was not the start of the Vietnam War, it represented the first major escalation that did not end for over a decade, and cost the lives of over 50,000 U.S. soldiers, and between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 Vietnamese citizens. It caused havoc with the U.S. economy, brought near-revolution to American streets and campuses and drew hostility towards the U.S. from most of the world.

Today, an unidentified Pentagon official called this ‘incident’ in the Strait of Hormuz “a serious provocation.” Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman referred to it as a “serious incident.” Mr. Gordon Johndore, National Security Council spokesman said the United States urges the Iranians “to refrain from such provocative actions that could lead to a dangerous incident in the future.”

It must be remembered that it was just a month ago that the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) determined that Iran ceased its nuclear weapons program four years ago. As President Bush was busy rattling his saber, and apparently itching to start yet another war, the NIE took the wind out of his bloody sails. He huffed and puffed and said, inexplicably, that the NIE report proved that Iran was still a great threat to the U.S., but it seemed that no one took him too seriously. Now, however, we have an ‘incident.’ Obviously, we are told, like in the Gulf of Tonkin 44 years ago, the U.S. has been the victim of ‘aggression.’

It is, of course, unimportant to consider that Iran might understandably be a little trigger-happy when it sees U.S. naval vessels approaching. Just because Iran’s next-door neighbor was invaded by the U.S. without provocation, and now is in the midst of a deadly occupation, should not in any way justify Iran’s wariness. The fact that it was only a year ago that Mr. Bush sent a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf for no other reason than to intimidate Iran, and to participate in ‘war games’ (an oxymoron if ever there was one) in clear sight of one of the members of Mr. Bush’s ‘axis of evil,’ should simply be ignored by Iran. The fact that the U.S. has a long and violent history of invading countries that displease it in some way (perhaps they have a democratically elected government that does not bow and scrape to the occupant of the White House throne) should not alarm Iran. Mr. Bush and his spokesman have not said that they plan to invade Iran; they simply said no options are off the table.

One waits in anxious impatience to see how Congress will react. Surely the slowly-dwindling multitudes seeking the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations will race each other to the microphone to denounce Iranian aggression, thus shining their patriotic credentials. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), who last fall voted to name Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, can gloat and glow with jingoistic satisfaction that that organization has now proven her right and her critics wrong, at least in her own mind. Perhaps former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, stumbling along on the path if not towards the Republican nomination, at least in its general direction, will endorse whatever Mr. Bush proclaims; after all, Mr. Romney has stated that it is Mr. Bush who has kept America safe (save for one or two unfortunate incidents in September of 2001). Will former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who never tires of reminding the voters that he and he alone was mayor of New York on September 11 2001 (whatever that may be worth), now raise the specter of Iranian terrorism in the U.S?

One could sit back and laugh at the nonsense proclaimed by the men and women who seek to lead the United States if their actions were not so dangerous. In 1964 an incident not unlike the one that allegedly took place in the Strait of Hormuz on January 8 of this year caused Congress to officially embark on America’s most deadly imperial disaster. ‘Flawed intelligence,’ at best, and outright lies at worst paved the way for the current imperial mess which has the potential to dwarf America’s Vietnam catastrophe. And now, with a lame duck president seeking to salvage his disgraced reputation, one wonders if this reported incident from Iran will have the same effect as the non-incident in the Gulf of Tonkin 44 years ago.

Mr. Bush & Co. have never been particularly interested in facts. They have not had any desire to listen to opposing opinions. They have happily ignored the wishes of the U.S. citizens. They apparently have been very interested in enriching themselves and their cronies, and have focused their desire for riches on oil, at the expense of the blood of their own, and Iraq’s, citizens. They have used fear to get Congress to support their crimes. There is nothing to cause one to think things will be different now. Congress has proved its spinelessness over and over, and we all know that there is no reason for statesmanship when interesting, pander-to-the-fear-of-the-moment sound bytes are so much easier.

Whether or not this current situation leads Congress to justify an invasion of Iran, or other actions that will lead to an invasion, remains to be seen. But the U.S. has not learned from its own history, and another repeat of an unneeded and catastrophic war is not, unfortunately, unthinkable. That the president will not stop it is not surprising; that Congress will be complicit once again is unspeakable.

Robert Fantina is author of ‘Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776–2006.

Fusion Energy device in funding limbo for two decades — dying on the vine for lack of nuclear weapons potential.

December 4, 2007

by Ed Ward, MD

Edited by Sterling D. Allan


US Physicist Dr. Robert W. Bussard has produced proven, consistent, working prototypes of a fusion device that does not need to release neutrons as part of the fusion process.

Neutrons induce radioactivity to their immediate surroundings. Bussard’s method does not do this.

This just one of the major drawbacks of other fusion projects such as the Tokamak project. The massive (30 meters X 110 feet) Tokamak/ITER project (D-T/Deuterium – Tritium) fusion reaction produces about 20 million units of energy mostly in the deadly neutron (neutral charge) production and requires gravitational strength containment/compression.

In contrast, Bussard’s Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) Fusion reaction produces about 10 million units of energy per reaction, requires much weaker electric forces/fields for confinement of the reaction and is only about 2% of the size (about 15 X 12 feet) of the Tokamak reactor.

Radioactive Tokamak technology has received 18 billion dollars of US subsidy with 30 billion more earmarked for future development. There has never been a working prototype of ITER technology. Funding is based on theories and equations. A working model is not even anticipated for another 30 to 50 years. There are many proponents of Tokamak that believe that this technology will never be economically viable and others that believe it will never come to fruition at all.

In contrast, IEC/Electric fusion devices are smaller, significantly more economical, non radioactive, has had working prototypes producing 10 kv of energy, much more likely to be a viable option, and could come to reality in about 5 – 6 years from appropriation of 200 million dollars. That is less than the cost of one day of economic support for the Middle East oil wars without a single loss of life; and is a mere 1/90th of what has been spent on D-T fusion.
Dr. Bussard’s IEC fusion advancements are based on the 1924 concepts of Langmuir and Blodgett, the efforts of Watson in 1959, and the developments of Philo Farnsworth and Robert Hirsch. These early works all involved the use of a grid which defeats the process involved. The Polywell device using magnetic fields removes the hindrance of the previously required grids in the fusion reactors (fusors). Over the years there have been isolated reports on Dr. Bussard’s works similar to ex-NASA employee Kelly Starks’ 1996 post, but as usual, the corporate media has been and is still currently ignoring this major breakthrough in energy production.

In 1996, through some awesome diplomatic expertise (along with the assistance of several patriot scientist friends) Bussard landed a deal with the DOD/DARPA for 50 million dollars and 12 years of research. Four moths later when the DOD found out what they were getting, they cancelled the contract by saying that the DOD doesn’t do fusion? With the approximate $6 million dollars (by Bussard’s general statement and $14 million by the navy’s specific statements) he funded a renowned scientist working on revolutionary clean fusion, 5 – 10 members, 35% overhead for filling in 64,000 pages of documents, the first machine (very expensive for its stage), and 12 years of work. One million dollars worth of equipment was saved by transferring it to a propulsion lab. It is amazing what they were able to accomplish with so little money.

Part of the 50 million deal that turned into 6 million was an agreement that Dr. Bussard not publish — a complete gag order. For 6 million the DOD took away all knowledge of clean, safe energy from The People, virtually assured a non-viable product, and was able to keep massive funding to D-T fusion (Thermonuclear Weapons), and allows continued experiments for the development of thermonuclear weapons, such as the Bunker Buster B-61.

When the 12-year contract expired and was not renewed, Dr. Bussard was able to publicize his accomplishments. This knowledge of clean energy must be exposed to the world.

It’s been a year since the DOD/DARPA refused to renew the IEC contract. Since then, Dr. Bussard has tried desperately to get exposure for his breakthrough technology and possibly planet-saving technology. He presented a paper at an International Conference in Spain. He has also made presentations to corporations as a profit venture.

Only after his fusion efforts had shown proof of fusion and had won the Outstanding Technology of the Year award did the DOD renew the contract. But they did not fund it. It looks like the DOD has stifled the information and is under-funding it again. However, the crucial information for the technology is available to any scientist, group, or nation that stumbles across it and is willing to invest.Dr. Bussard’s excellent 93 minute taped presentation to Google explains the Electric Fusion process in basic physics context and concepts in a way that most with a minimal background of basics physics can relate. The video contains a lot of the previously noted information as well as his well-founded belief that the physics of IEC is proven and merely awaits engineering development which already exists, but needs to be applied to this particular instance. Data being consistent with IEC fusion statements, it certainly appears the essence of what Bussard says is true.

Refinement of semi-sphere electromagnet shapes and placements still needs further evaluation. Significantly more energy is required for the Boron non radioactive fusion reaction. The equipment must be tested for viability, dependability and durability when running in a steady state and will need to be refined. A large number of variables – heat, pressure, introduction, removal, collection, etc – will need to be fine tuned for continuous vs pulsed operation. Time is also of the essence and one year’s worth of precious time has already been wasted.”At 78, he (Bussard) is in ill health and his scientific allies fear that the long-sought breakthrough he appears to have achieved may fade into obscurity before it can be fully developed.” Dr. Bussard believes there may only be about 5 people on the planet with the background, experience, training and qualifications to make in-depth evaluations and comments regarding IEC fusion. Bussard is the foremost expert on IEC fusion. His loss would surely be a significant hindrance to the completion of the project. Is the DOD trying to stall to insure massive continued funding for nuclear weapons and oblivion of safe and cheap energy?

The title ‘Technology for the Year” hardly does this discovery justice. Electric Fusion is the “Technology of the Century”. Millions could gain access to cheap energy and pure water as a result.

The potential of one Electric Fusion reactor is impressive. Google rumors IEC output to be in the range of between 100 MW and 1,000 MW (100,000 to 1 Million kW). To be able to grasp the amount of energy produced, the average home usage peaks at 3 to 4 kW for about 4 hours a day. One Electric Fusion device would provide the peak power for 25,000 to 33,000 home with an on demand output of 100 MW. Or, 250,000 to 330,000 homes at peak output with an on demand output of 1,000 MW.

US Physicist Dr. Robert Bussard, a Princeton graduate, has 57 years of research and development experience working in the energy field. His credits range from rocket propulsion to fusion. During that time Dr. Bussard has had significant roles at Los Alamos National Labs, Oakridge Labs, TRW Systems and was the Assistant Director of the US Atomic Energy Commission. He conceived the aptly name Bussard Ramjet propulsion system and has 3 patents on his non-neutron (no radiation) fusion device. In 2006, he won The Outstanding Technology of the Year Award from the International Academy of Science (an insightful basic partial summation of the process) for his achievements regarding fusion.

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SOURCE:

See also

Blowback From Moscow

November 30, 2007

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Our next president will likely face a Russia led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, determined to stand up to a West that Russians believe played them for fools when they sought to be friends.

Americans who think Putin has never been anything but a KGB thug will reject accusations of any U.S. role in causing the ruination of relations between us.

Yet the hubris of Bill Clinton and George Bush I, and the Russophobia of those they brought with them into power, has been a primary cause of the ruptured relationship. And the folly of what they did is evident today, as Putin’s party, United Russia, rolls to triumph on a torrent of abuse and invective against the West.

Entering the campaign’s final week, Putin, addressing a rally of 5,000, ripped the Other Russia coalition led by chess champion Gary Kasparov as poodles of the United States, “who sponge off foreign embassies … and who count on the support of foreign resources and governments, and not of their own people.”

“Those who oppose us,” roared Putin, “don’t want our plans to be completed. They have completely different tasks and a completely different view of Russia. They need a weak, sick state, a disoriented, divided society, so that behind its back they can get up to their dirty deeds and profit at your and my expense.”

Putin is referring to the time of the “oligarchs” of the Yeltsin era, who looted Russia when its state assets were sold off at fire-sale prices.

Putin is also accusing his opponents of attempting to use the Western-devised tactics of mass street protests to bring down his government. “Now that they have learned some things from Western specialists and tried them in the neighboring republics, they are going to try them on our streets.”

Putin is talking here about the “color-coded” revolutions that the U.S. and NATO embassies, the National Endowment for Democracy, and allied foundations and front groups engineered in Ukraine and Georgia. Governments tilting toward Moscow were dumped over and pro-Western regimes installed – to bid for membership in NATO and the European Union.

Blowback is a term broadly used in espionage to describe the unintended consequences of covert operations. The revolution that brought the Ayatollah to power is said to be blowback for the U.S.-engineered coup to overthrow Mossadegh in 1953 and install the Shah.

The nationalism and anti-Americanism rife in Putin’s Russia is blowback for our contemptuous disregard of Russian sensibilities and our arrogant intrusions into Russia’s space. How did we lose a Russia that Ronald Reagan and Bush I had virtually converted into an ally?

We pushed NATO into Moscow’s face, bringing six ex-Warsaw Pact nations and three ex-Soviet republics – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – into our Cold War alliance and plotted to bring in Ukraine and Georgia.

We financed a pipeline from Baku through Georgia to the Black Sea to cut Russia out of the Caspian oil trade. After getting Moscow’s permission to use old Soviet bases in Central Asia to invade Afghanistan, we set about making the bases permanent. We pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty over Moscow’s objection, then announced plans to plant ABM radars in the Czech Republic and anti-missile missiles in Poland.

Putin has now responded in kind, and who can blame him?

As we tried to cut him out of the Azerbaijan oil with a Black Sea pipeline, he is slashing subsidies on Ukraine’s oil and colluding with Germany on a Baltic Sea pipeline to cut Poland out of the oil trade with Western Europe.

As we moved our alliance and bases into his front and back yard, he has entered a quasi-alliance with China and four nations of Central Asia to expel U.S. military power from the region.

As we abandoned the ABM Treaty, the Duma, in November, voted 418 to 0 to suspend participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, which restricts the size of the Russian army west of the Urals.

If we recognize Kosovo as independent, at the expense of Serbia, Putin is now threatening to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the breakaway republics of Georgia and Transneistria, claimed by Moldova.

Where we backed the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia, Russia backs its favorites in Kiev and supports street protests in Tbilisi against the pro-American regime of Mikhail Saakashvili, whom the United States now seems powerless to help.

It was not NATO that liberated Eastern Europe. Moscow did – by pulling out the Red Army after half a century. Why, then, did we think moving NATO into Eastern Europe was a surer guarantee of their continued independence than the goodwill of Russia?

Many among our foreign policy elite now talk of a Second Cold War. John McCain wants Russia kicked out of the G-8.

But do we not have enough enemies already that we should add the largest nation on earth?

November 30, 2007

Patrick J. Buchanan [send him mail] is co-founder and editor of The American Conservative. He is also the author of seven books, including Where the Right Went Wrong, and A Republic Not An Empire.

12 states sue EPA for data on toxins – another mission accomplished

November 29, 2007

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By MICHAEL GORMLEY, Associated Press Writer 

ALBANY, N.Y. – Twelve states sued the Bush administration on Wednesday to force greater disclosure of data on toxic chemicals that companies store, use and release into the environment.

The state officials oppose new federal Environmental Protection Agency rules that allow thousands of companies to limit the information they disclose to the public about toxic chemicals, according to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the lead attorney general in the civil lawsuit.

The EPA this year rolled back a regulation on the Toxics Release Inventory law signed by President Ronald Reagan after the deadly Bhopal toxic chemical catastrophe in India in 1984, according to the states involved in the lawsuit. That law required companies to provide a lengthy, detailed report whenever they store or emit 500 pounds of specific toxins.

The new rule adopted this year requires that lengthy accounting only for companies storing or releasing 5,000 pounds of toxins or more. Companies storing or releasing 500 to 4,999 pounds of toxins would have to file an abbreviated form, said Katherine Kennedy, New York‘s special deputy attorney general for environmental protection.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New York City seeks to invalidate the EPA’s revised regulations.

“The EPA’s new regulations rob New Yorkers — and people across the country — of their right to know about toxic dangers in their own backyards,” said Cuomo. “Along with eleven other states throughout the nation, we will restore the public’s right to information about chemical hazards, despite the Bush administration’s best attempts to hide it.”

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the EPA’s action cripples a 20-year program that required companies to report the amount of lead, mercury and other toxins they released.

“Polluters can release 10 times more toxins like lead and mercury without telling anyone,” he said.

An EPA spokesman had no immediate comment.

The other states suing the EPA are Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.

It’s the Oil

November 25, 2007

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by Jim Holt

Iraq is ‘unwinnable’, a ‘quagmire’, a ‘fiasco’: so goes the received opinion. But there is good reason to think that, from the Bush-Cheney perspective, it is none of these things. Indeed, the US may be ‘stuck’ precisely where Bush et al want it to be, which is why there is no ‘exit strategy’.

Iraq has 115 billion barrels of known oil reserves. That is more than five times the total in the United States. And, because of its long isolation, it is the least explored of the world’s oil-rich nations. A mere two thousand wells have been drilled across the entire country; in Texas alone there are a million. It has been estimated, by the Council on Foreign Relations, that Iraq may have a further 220 billion barrels of undiscovered oil; another study puts the figure at 300 billion. If these estimates are anywhere close to the mark, US forces are now sitting on one quarter of the world’s oil resources. The value of Iraqi oil, largely light crude with low production costs, would be of the order of $30 trillion at today’s prices. For purposes of comparison, the projected total cost of the US invasion/occupation is around $1 trillion.

Who will get Iraq’s oil? One of the Bush administration’s ‘benchmarks’ for the Iraqi government is the passage of a law to distribute oil revenues. The draft law that the US has written for the Iraqi congress would cede nearly all the oil to Western companies. The Iraq National Oil Company would retain control of 17 of Iraq’s 80 existing oilfields, leaving the rest – including all yet to be discovered oil – under foreign corporate control for 30 years. ‘The foreign companies would not have to invest their earnings in the Iraqi economy,’ the analyst Antonia Juhasz wrote in the New York Times in March, after the draft law was leaked. ‘They could even ride out Iraq’s current “instability” by signing contracts now, while the Iraqi government is at its weakest, and then wait at least two years before even setting foot in the country.’ As negotiations over the oil law stalled in September, the provincial government in Kurdistan simply signed a separate deal with the Dallas-based Hunt Oil Company, headed by a close political ally of President Bush.

How will the US maintain hegemony over Iraqi oil? By establishing permanent military bases in Iraq. Five self-sufficient ‘super-bases’ are in various stages of completion. All are well away from the urban areas where most casualties have occurred. There has been precious little reporting on these bases in the American press, whose dwindling corps of correspondents in Iraq cannot move around freely because of the dangerous conditions. (It takes a brave reporter to leave the Green Zone without a military escort.) In February last year, the Washington Post reporter Thomas Ricks described one such facility, the Balad Air Base, forty miles north of Baghdad. A piece of (well-fortified) American suburbia in the middle of the Iraqi desert, Balad has fast-food joints, a miniature golf course, a football field, a cinema and distinct neighbourhoods – among them, ‘KBR-land’, named after the Halliburton subsidiary that has done most of the construction work at the base. Although few of the 20,000 American troops stationed there have ever had any contact with an Iraqi, the runway at the base is one of the world’s busiest. ‘We are behind only Heathrow right now,’ an air force commander told Ricks.

The Defense Department was initially coy about these bases. In 2003, Donald Rumsfeld said: ‘I have never, that I can recall, heard the subject of a permanent base in Iraq discussed in any meeting.’ But this summer the Bush administration began to talk openly about stationing American troops in Iraq for years, even decades, to come. Several visitors to the White House have told the New York Times that the president himself has become fond of referring to the ‘Korea model’. When the House of Representatives voted to bar funding for ‘permanent bases’ in Iraq, the new term of choice became ‘enduring bases’, as if three or four decades wasn’t effectively an eternity.

But will the US be able to maintain an indefinite military presence in Iraq? It will plausibly claim a rationale to stay there for as long as civil conflict simmers, or until every groupuscule that conveniently brands itself as ‘al-Qaida’ is exterminated. The civil war may gradually lose intensity as Shias, Sunnis and Kurds withdraw into separate enclaves, reducing the surface area for sectarian friction, and as warlords consolidate local authority. De facto partition will be the result. But this partition can never become de jure. (An independent Kurdistan in the north might upset Turkey, an independent Shia region in the east might become a satellite of Iran, and an independent Sunni region in the west might harbour al-Qaida.) Presiding over this Balkanised Iraq will be a weak federal government in Baghdad, propped up and overseen by the Pentagon-scale US embassy that has just been constructed – a green zone within the Green Zone. As for the number of US troops permanently stationed in Iraq, the defence secretary, Robert Gates, told Congress at the end of September that ‘in his head’ he saw the long-term force as consisting of five combat brigades, a quarter of the current number, which, with support personnel, would mean 35,000 troops at the very minimum, probably accompanied by an equal number of mercenary contractors. (He may have been erring on the side of modesty, since the five super-bases can accommodate between ten and twenty thousand troops each.) These forces will occasionally leave their bases to tamp down civil skirmishes, at a declining cost in casualties. As a senior Bush administration official told the New York Times in June, the long-term bases ‘are all places we could fly in and out of without putting Americans on every street corner’. But their main day-to-day function will be to protect the oil infrastructure.

This is the ‘mess’ that Bush-Cheney is going to hand on to the next administration. What if that administration is a Democratic one? Will it dismantle the bases and withdraw US forces entirely? That seems unlikely, considering the many beneficiaries of the continued occupation of Iraq and the exploitation of its oil resources. The three principal Democratic candidates – Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards – have already hedged their bets, refusing to promise that, if elected, they would remove American forces from Iraq before 2013, the end of their first term.

Among the winners: oil-services companies like Halliburton; the oil companies themselves (the profits will be unimaginable, and even Democrats can be bought); US voters, who will be guaranteed price stability at the gas pump (which sometimes seems to be all they care about); Europe and Japan, which will both benefit from Western control of such a large part of the world’s oil reserves, and whose leaders will therefore wink at the permanent occupation; and, oddly enough, Osama bin Laden, who will never again have to worry about US troops profaning the holy places of Mecca and Medina, since the stability of the House of Saud will no longer be paramount among American concerns. Among the losers is Russia, which will no longer be able to lord its own energy resources over Europe. Another big loser is Opec, and especially Saudi Arabia, whose power to keep oil prices high by enforcing production quotas will be seriously compromised.

Then there is the case of Iran, which is more complicated. In the short term, Iran has done quite well out of the Iraq war. Iraq’s ruling Shia coalition is now dominated by a faction friendly to Tehran, and the US has willy-nilly armed and trained the most pro-Iranian elements in the Iraqi military. As for Iran’s nuclear programme, neither air strikes nor negotiations seem likely to derail it at the moment. But the Iranian regime is precarious. Unpopular mullahs hold onto power by financing internal security services and buying off elites with oil money, which accounts for 70 per cent of government revenues. If the price of oil were suddenly to drop to, say, $40 a barrel (from a current price just north of $80), the repressive regime in Tehran would lose its steady income. And that is an outcome the US could easily achieve by opening the Iraqi oil spigot for as long as necessary (perhaps taking down Venezuela’s oil-cocky Hugo Chávez into the bargain).

And think of the United States vis-à-vis China. As a consequence of our trade deficit, around a trillion dollars’ worth of US denominated debt (including $400 billion in US Treasury bonds) is held by China. This gives Beijing enormous leverage over Washington: by offloading big chunks of US debt, China could bring the American economy to its knees. China’s own economy is, according to official figures, expanding at something like 10 per cent a year. Even if the actual figure is closer to 4 or 5 per cent, as some believe, China’s increasing heft poses a threat to US interests. (One fact: China is acquiring new submarines five times faster than the US.) And the main constraint on China’s growth is its access to energy – which, with the US in control of the biggest share of world oil, would largely be at Washington’s sufferance. Thus is the Chinese threat neutralised.

Many people are still perplexed by exactly what moved Bush-Cheney to invade and occupy Iraq. In the 27 September issue of the New York Review of Books, Thomas Powers, one of the most astute watchers of the intelligence world, admitted to a degree of bafflement. ‘What’s particularly odd,’ he wrote, ‘is that there seems to be no sophisticated, professional, insiders’ version of the thinking that drove events.’ Alan Greenspan, in his just published memoir, is clearer on the matter. ‘I am saddened,’ he writes, ‘that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.’

Was the strategy of invading Iraq to take control of its oil resources actually hammered out by Cheney’s 2001 energy task force? One can’t know for sure, since the deliberations of that task force, made up largely of oil and energy company executives, have been kept secret by the administration on the grounds of ‘executive privilege’. One can’t say for certain that oil supplied the prime motive. But the hypothesis is quite powerful when it comes to explaining what has actually happened in Iraq. The occupation may seem horribly botched on the face of it, but the Bush administration’s cavalier attitude towards ‘nation-building’ has all but ensured that Iraq will end up as an American protectorate for the next few decades – a necessary condition for the extraction of its oil wealth. If the US had managed to create a strong, democratic government in an Iraq effectively secured by its own army and police force, and had then departed, what would have stopped that government from taking control of its own oil, like every other regime in the Middle East? On the assumption that the Bush-Cheney strategy is oil-centred, the tactics – dissolving the army, de-Baathification, a final ‘surge’ that has hastened internal migration – could scarcely have been more effective. The costs – a few billion dollars a month plus a few dozen American fatalities (a figure which will probably diminish, and which is in any case comparable to the number of US motorcyclists killed because of repealed helmet laws) – are negligible compared to $30 trillion in oil wealth, assured American geopolitical supremacy and cheap gas for voters. In terms of realpolitik, the invasion of Iraq is not a fiasco; it is a resounding success.

Still, there is reason to be sceptical of the picture I have drawn: it implies that a secret and highly ambitious plan turned out just the way its devisers foresaw, and that almost never happens.

Our Drinkable Water Supply Is Vanishing

October 13, 2007

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By Tara Lohan, AlterNet. Posted October 11, 2007.

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, the Hungarian biochemist and Nobel Prize winner for medicine once said, “Water is life’s matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.”

We depend on water for survival. It circulates through our bodies and the land, replenishing nutrients and carrying away waste. It is passed down like stories over generations — from ice-capped mountains to rivers to oceans.

Historically water has been a facet of ritual, a place of gathering and the backbone of community.

But times have changed. “In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water has become the victim of his indifference,” Rachel Carson wrote.

As a result, today, 35 years since the passage of the Clean Water Act, we find ourselves are teetering on the edge of a global crisis that is being exacerbated by climate change, which is shrinking glaciers and raising sea levels.

We are faced with thoughtless development that paves flood plains and destroys wetlands; dams that displace native people and scar watersheds; unchecked industrial growth that pollutes water sources; and rising rates of consumption that nature can’t match. Increasingly, we are also threatened by the wave of privatization that is sweeping across the world, turning water from a precious public resource into a commodity for economic gain.

The problems extend from the global north to the south and are as pervasive as water itself. Equally encompassing are the politics of water. Discussions about our water crisis include issues like poverty, trade, community and privatization. In talking about water, we must also talk about indigenous rights, environmental justice, education, corporate accountability, and democracy. In this mix of terms are not only the causes of our crisis but also the solutions.

What’s gone wrong?

As our world heats up, as pollution increases, as population grows and as our globe’s resources of fresh water are tapped, we are faced with an environmental and humanitarian problem of mammoth proportions.

Demand for water is doubling every 20 years, outpacing population growth twice as fast. Currently 1.3 billion people don’t have access to clean water and 2.5 billion lack proper sewage and sanitation. In less than 20 years, it is estimated that demand for fresh water will exceed the world’s supply by over 50 percent.

The biggest drain on our water sources is agriculture, which accounts for 70 percent of the water used worldwide — much of which is subsidized in the industrial world, providing little incentive for agribusiness to use conservation measures or less water-intensive crops.

This number is also likely to increase as we struggle to feed a growing world. Population is expected to rise from 6 billion to 8 billion by 2050.

Water scarcity is not just an issue of the developing world. “Twenty-one percent of irrigation in the United States is achieved by pumping groundwater at rates that exceed the water’s ability to recharge,” wrote water experts Tony Clarke of the Polaris Institute and Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians in their landmark water book Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water.

The Ogallala aquifer — the largest in the North America and a major source for agriculture stretching from Texas to South Dakota — is currently being pumped at a rate 14 times greater than it can be replenished, they wrote. And, across the country, “California’s Department of Water Resources predicts that, by 2020, if more supplies are not found, the state will face a shortfall of fresh water nearly as great as the amount that all of its cities and towns together are consuming today,” add Clarke and Barlow.

Demand is outstripping supply from the rainy Seattle area to desert cities like Tucson and Albuquerque. And from Midwest farming regions to East Coast cities.

The crisis is also worldwide, most noticeable in Mexico, the Middle East, China and Africa.

As population growth, development, consumption and pollution take its toll on our water resources, the ability to fight this problem has been further complicated by the spread of neoliberalism. The same ideas that have resulted in the booty of private contracts being doled out in Iraq also have contributed greatly to our water crisis. Neoliberalism is the belief in “economic liberalism,” which espoused that government control over the economy was bad. It opened up the commons to commodification and let corporations privatize what once belonged to the public.

In 2000 Fortune magazine printed this telling statement: “Water promises to be to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th century; the precious commodity that determines the wealth of nations.”

It has oft been expressed that the next resource wars will not be over oil — or energy at all — but over water. As the idea of neoliberalism, proliferated by institutions like the World Bank and the IMF, spread, the public sector has become dangerously privatized. And it may not be the wealth of nations on the line — but the wealth of corporations.

A senior executive at a subsidiary of Vivendi, the world’s largest water controller summed it up, “Water is a critical and necessary ingredient to the daily life of every human being, and it is an equally powerful ingredient for profitable manufacturing companies.”

But when private companies control water resources, people’s needs for survival are pushed aside in place of the bottom line. In Africa, an estimated 5 million people die each year for lack of safe drinking water. And yet Africa, with its many cash-strapped countries, is targeted by multinationals that force governments to turn over their public water systems in exchange for promises of debt relief.

When corporations control water, rates go up, services go down, and those who can’t afford to pay are forced to drink unsafe water, risking their lives. This has happened across the world — in South Africa, in Bolivia, in the United States.

This same philosophy of corporate control drives the construction of dams, which have displaced an estimated 80 million people worldwide. In India alone, over 4,000 dams have submerged 37,500 square kilometers of land and forced 42 million people from their homes.

Multinationals looking to cash in on the water business have also made giant inroads in selling bottled water in richer countries. Expensive marketing campaigns convince people that their tap water is unsafe to drink. Then, companies like Coke and Pepsi bottle municipal tap water and others like Nestle pilfer spring water from rural communities and resell it at huge profits.

The water crisis may be growing, but so is resistance to privatization as communities are fighting back against the corporate control of the world’s most vital resource.

How we can fix it

We need water to survive, not just as individuals, but as communities. Author John Thorson put it perfectly when he said, “Water links us to our neighbor in a way more profound and complex than any other.”

Just ask the people of the Klamath Basin of Southern Oregon and Northern California. They’ve experienced water wars for the last hundred years that have pitted neighbor against neighbor and tribal member against farmer.

Native American tribes in the region — the Klamath, Hoopa, Karuk, and Yaruk — with priority rights to water, have struggled with farmers over limited water resources. Nature has been unable to deliver as much water as the government has promised to farmers and tribal members, as well as downstream fishermen. With not enough water in the river, either crops have failed or fish have died, creating community strife and economic hardship.

But in the last year, things have begun to change. These groups have formed a coalition to save the river they all depend on for survival. They are sitting at the same table and finally beginning to hear from each other about the needs of farmers, the value of subsistence economies, the history of families on the river, the ceremony that comes with the salmon runs, the rights of nature.

Together, this unlikely alliance is taking on PacifiCorp, one of the largest multinational power companies, whose out-of-date dams are threatening the ecosystem and the economy of the region.

And just over the peak of Mount Shasta another community and tribe are battling to save their spring water from Nestle, which hopes to tap the community’s greatest asset for its own wealth.

The people of the small town of McCloud and the Winnemem Wintu tribe are fighting back, and they are not alone. Across the country a backlash to the bottled-water business is gaining steam. Fancy restaurants like California’s Chez Panisse, Incanto, and Poggio and New York’s Del Posto have gotten on board. San Francisco has also led the way among municipalities that are beginning to cancel their bottled water contracts, understanding the great harm the industry does to the environment and communities.

It is not just bottled water that has posed a problem, but private companies buying out municipal water systems and then raising rates and lowering services. One the best examples is Stockton, Calif., which went private in the largest “public-private partnership” in the West. Since 2001 the people of Stockton have been fighting for control of their water against a multinational consortium.

The case gained international attention when it was featured in the film and book Thirst: Fighting the Corporate Theft of Our Water. The public finally won out in July, when the city council voted to get rid of the 20-year contract and send the corporation packing.

The citizen groups that have been working to defend their communities are being supported by many national and international groups pushing back against corporate control and empowering people — groups like Tony Clarke’s Polaris Institute in Canada, which has focused on public education and research around issues like the privatization of water services, bulk water exports, water security and bottled water.

In the United States, Corporate Accountability International is encouraging people to drink tap water over bottled water with their “Think Outside the Bottle Campaign.” They are working to educate the public, as well as city governments and businesses, with great success.

And today, on the 35th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, Food & Water Watch, is sponsoring a National Call-In Day for action on clean water to urge representatives to support the creation of a clean water trust fund, “which is a long-term, sustainable, and reliable source of funding to upgrade and improve our public water systems.” The organization has been working to protect public water systems from private takeover and to help fund municipal water so that all residents have clean, safe and affordable water.

The movement extends across the country and the world as people are also rebelling against the corporate takeover of their municipal water systems — in California, in Ghana, in Brazil, in Canada, in France, in Indonesia — and the list goes on.

Opposition to corporate control is rooted in the belief that water is part of the commons. Everyone should have access to clean water, regardless of their level of income or their country’s international standing.

In order to ensure that all people have access to clean, affordable water, we need to make some changes.

Some see technology as the necessary fix — or at least a step in the right direction. As the BBC reports:

New technology can help, however, especially by cleaning up pollution and so making more water useable, and in agriculture, where water use can be made far more efficient. Drought-resistant plants can also help.

Drip irrigation drastically cuts the amount of water needed, low-pressure sprinklers are an improvement, and even building simple earth walls to trap rainfall is helpful.

Some countries are now treating waste water so that it can be used — and drunk — several times over.

Desalinization makes sea water available, but takes huge quantities of energy and leaves vast amounts of brine.

But many warn against relying on a “techno-fix” to solve our problems.

Water experts argue that we need to reduce consumption on individual and community levels. Author Tony Clarke advises working with those closest to the problems, such as helping farmers to develop a more sustainable agriculture system. And the same goes for industry. Looking to the folks who have been on the land longest, like indigenous and traditional cultures, will also help us learn how an ecosystem works.

And experts say that we also need to start developing a comprehensive water policy that goes from the regional to international level. The World Bank and United Nations have the capability to change the designation of water from a human need to a human right, ensuring that corporations can’t exploit this resource for economic gain, as Clarke and Barlow advocate for in Blue Gold.

Governments should be investing in their people, in conservation and in the infrastructure that we depend on to access clean, affordable water.

It ultimately comes down to an issue of democracy. “We came to see that the conflicts over water are really about fundamental questions of democracy itself: Who will make the decisions that affect our future, and who will be excluded?” wrote Alan Snitow, Deborah Kaufman and Michael Fox in their recent book Thirst. “And if citizens no longer control their most basic resource, their water, do they really control anything at all?”

Cast of “30 Rock” wearing “Gore ’08” t-shirts

October 6, 2007

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October 4, 2007 — FORMER vice president Al Gore is expected to appear on an upcoming episode of the NBC sitcom, “30 Rock.” Gore recently taped his brief appearance on the show.

Gore’s guest spot is likely to appear during the fifth episode of the season, according to the gossip Web site, Gawker.

During the taping of the episode, the cast was seen wearing “Gore ’08” t-shirts.

NBC officials declined to comment.

http://www.nypost.com/seven/10042007/tv/gore_warming_up_rock.htm

We need Al to be President, but the attack of right wing conservative radical fascists (fox, limbaugh ..) would be personal and unrelenting. If he does run we owe it to him to make sure the main stream media give him a fair shot.

show your support! http://www.algore.org/

Al Gore experts’ choices for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize

October 6, 2007

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By John Acher

OSLO (Reuters) – Former Vice President Al Gore and other campaigners against climate change lead experts’ choices for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, an award once reserved for statesmen, peacemakers and human rights activists.

If a campaigner against global warming carries off the high world accolade later this month, it will accentuate a shift to reward work outside traditional peacekeeping and reinforce the link between peace and the environment.

The winner, who will take $1.5 million in prize money, will be announced in the Norwegian capital on October 12 from a field of 181 nominees.

Gore, who has raised awareness with his book and Oscar-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”, and Canadian Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier, who has shed light on how global warming affects Arctic peoples, were nominated to share the prize by two Norwegian parliamentarians.

“I think they are likely winners this year,” said Stein Toennesson, director of Oslo’s International Peace Research Institute (PRIO) and a long-time Nobel Peace Prize watcher.

“It will certainly be tempting to the (Nobel) committee to have two North Americans — one the activist that personifies the struggle against climate change, raising awareness, and the other who represents some of the victims of climate change.”

Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, agreed the award committee could establish the link between peace and the environment.

“I think the whole issue of climate change and the environment will come at some point and reflect in the prize,” Egeland told reporters last week.

“There are already climate wars unfolding … And the worst area for that is the Sahel belt in Africa.”

There has been a shift to reward work away from the realm of conventional peacemaking and human rights work.

In 2004, Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai won for her campaign to get women to plant trees across Africa. Last year’s prize went to Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank for their efforts to lift millions out of poverty through a system of tiny loans.

IN WITH A CHANCE

Toennesson said others with a chance included former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, a perennial nominee for decades of peace mediation work, and dissident Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Do for his pro-democracy efforts.

His shortlist also includes Russian human rights lawyer Lidia Yusupova, who has fought for victims of war in Chechnya, and Rebiya Kadeer, an advocate for China’s Uighur minority.

The secretive five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee does not disclose the names of nominees, though some who make nominations go public with their candidates.

Toennesson said by giving the award to those fighting climate change, the committee would thrust itself into the public debate ahead of a key U.N. climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, in December.

If Gore is seen as too political, the committee could opt instead for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — the scientists who advise the United Nations and produce key reports on the climate problem, Toennesson said.

To give it a face, the prize could be shared by the IPCC’s Indian chairman Rajendra Pachauri, experts said, though Pachauri told Reuters in London he did not think he stood a chance.

“I have a feeling it will go to Al Gore, and I think he deserves it. He certainly has done a remarkable job of creating awareness on the subject and has become a crusader,” he said.

Watt-Cloutier told Reuters she was flattered to be mentioned as a possible winner but did not expect to win.

Toennesson said Ahtisaari deserves the prize most for helping to bring peace to the Aceh region of Indonesia in 2005.

(Additional reporting by Alister Doyle)